My parents have always told me, “To assume makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.” While neither of my parents were Christians, they did have a valid point. We know due to our conscience, and natural social consequences, that to make assumptions about another person is a lack of charity on our part. What is the true gravity of assumptions, of “rash judgment”?
As human beings it is our very nature to seek the truth. It is a holy pursuit, and as Catholics we are morally bound to engage in it.
CCC: 2467: “Man tends by nature towards the truth. He is obligated to honor and bear witness to it: It is accordance with their dignity, that all men, because they are persons…are both impelled by their nature and bound by the moral obligation to seek the truth…”
We know as Christians that we should always speak the truth and never lie, but knowing and living the truth demand more than simply never speaking a lie. There are other offenses against the truth, including bearing false witness against your neighbor. Bearing false witness against your neighbor also includes making rash judgments, especially when it involves an assumption on an issue of morality. A rash judgment goes beyond accusation; rather it is a condemnation.
CCC 2477: “ Respect for the reputations of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true. without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor…”
How quick we are to make excuses for ourselves! Even in our sins we seek to find our “morally good intent.” While this may be an offense against true repentance, it also is a witness to the amount of leniency we give to ourselves alone. If a brother or sister in Christ were to make the same action, even without knowing the thoughts and heart of this person we may often assume malicious intent on their part. Sometimes we are also quick to assume misunderstandings are malicious or intentional. We quickly dismiss all our own wrongs, because we are only human. But strangely we hold others, especially our friends, family, and spouses, to a standard only God can live up to.
While we as Christians are called to judge between right and wrong, we are not called to pass rash judgment on our neighbors. To make assumptions about our neighbor is to go against both our very human nature to be seekers of truth, and our Christian nature to morally pursue truth. In fact it goes even further; not only does it turn us from the truth, but it makes us seekers of lies, and celebrants of lies. Assumptions harden our hearts to others, and to the revelation of our own sins and faults.
One example that comes to mind is one that I have unfortunately encountered with the faithful Catholics several times. It is the judgment of those (often Christians) who label themselves as “gay” or “lbgt”. I have been told that if a person labels themselves as ‘gay’, it means that they are living a ‘homosexual lifestyle’, or having intimate sexual fornication with persons of the same-sex, acting on their sexual desires. I have yet to find in the Catechism where it says those who label themselves as “gay” are absolutely living a life of sin. How strange that the label of “straight” or “heterosexual”, does not make the same assumptions. When we see an unmarried heterosexual couple, we do not assume that they are committing fornication because they are sexually attracted to each other. I would like to find who first proposed this assumption, this judgment on persons who are attracted to others of the same sex. It would be a grave lack of charity to assume a priest is acting on sexual desires simply because he identifies as heterosexual, just as it is a grave lack of charity to assume a person is acting on sexual desires because they identify as homosexual.
Perhaps we should measure our neighbors with the same stick we use to measure ourselves. How graciously then would we look upon others!
CCC 2478: ” To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbors thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way.”
So much time is wasted in making assumptions on the sins of others; time that we should be using to pursue a holy life, seeking truth and never relishing in the lies that destroy the dignity of our neighbor. When these assumptions are spoken to others they become slander; therefore we are obligated to find their sources, and destroy them. Often the source is anger, sometimes envy, maybe insecurity. Let us pursue the virtues, and turn towards truth, that is Jesus Christ.
CCC 2505: “Truth or truthfulness is the virtue which consists in showing oneself true in deeds and truthful in words, and guarding against duplicity, dissimulation, and hypocrisy.”
CCC- Catechism of the Catholic ChurchTags » assumption, Honesty, judgement, lie, neighbors, sin, temptation, truth